When freshman swimmer Jack Kucharczyk signed with IU late in his senior year of high school, he focused his attention on demonstrating his talent to his coaches.
Kucharczyk, an IM and breaststroker, has already shown flashes of his potential this year for the No. 4-ranked men’s swim team.
However, getting to this point was anything but simple for the freshman.
Kucharczyk, a native of Shelby Township, Michigan, was nothing short of spectacular as a high school swimmer.
He was an All-American in the 200 medley relay his senior year, a three-time NCSA Junior National Medalist, eight-time all-state and two-time conference swimmer of the year.
But despite his vast success in high school, Kucharczyk struggled to get the offers he wanted.
In Michigan many kids want to swim for the University of Michigan, but the university tends to find their recruits from out of state or out of the country, Warren De La Salle Collegiate High School head swim coach Jim Singelyn said.
Kucharczyk said he watched kids he felt were as good or worse than him get their Division I offers, but his weren’t coming.
“I had convinced myself that I was good enough to go to all these schools that I was looking at,” Kucharczyk said. “You know, when it got kind of later on I still had faith and stuff... I mean starts to come into your mind. And, you know, you start to get weary and stuff but I just kept doing what I was doing all along. And I knew what I worked for would eventually come.”
Singelyn, a 1990 graduate of De La Salle and Kucharczyk’s coach for his final two years of high school, experienced a very similar situation to Kucharczyk’s.
When he was competing for a college offer, the three-time high school All-American had to wait until late in the cycle to receive his chance at the University of Kansas, where he swam for a year before transferring to Eastern Michigan and ultimately became an All-MAC selection.
“I told him ‘just hang on ... Come spring, when the coaches come back around, like spring signing period, they’re going to come after you,” Singelyn said. “But, you know, you’ve got to have faith. Don’t get down on yourself.’ And I knew it would happen cause the same thing happened to me.”
However, getting that offer from IU was a tall task for Kucharczyk, as he had to work to get head swim coach Ray Looze and his staff to take a look at him.
Looze himself acknowledged that IU wasn’t exactly begging Kucharczyk to come to Bloomington.
“There wasn’t a lot of contact there from us,” Looze said. “Obviously more than anywhere else but, I mean Jack kind of recruited us in a way.”
Looze said Kucharczyk stressed wanting to be a part of the team and to get a chance to swim at the top-tier Division I level.
Ultimately the offer did come, Kucharczyk signed with IU in the spring of his senior season — a moment he described as one of the most special of his life.
But before Kucharczyk could move on to IU he had one more special high school moment.
In the spring of his senior year, he broke Singelyn’s De La Salle record in the 100-yard breaststroke.
“I thought it was really cool that, you know, it was like an old, old record, and that the guy who set that record ended up coaching the person who beat that record,” Kucharczyk said. “That just seems really cool. Like, it couldn’t have been any better honestly.”
In his time since joining the IU swim program, Kucharczyk has been phenomenal.
His early season results include a tie for third in the 200-yard breaststroke against perennial powers Texas and Florida and a second-place finish against top-25 teams Kentucky and Tennessee in the same event.
“I’ve got to make sure that I stay humble and realize what the long term goal is and not let the early success go my head,” Kucharczyk said.
Kucharczyk was diagnosed with mononucleosis, which can cause intense fatigue, a few weeks ago.
The illness has forced him to train even harder to regain his early season form, but it looks as if he’ll be back to face Michigan, his home-state school and one of many programs who passed on him during the recruiting process.
“That’s my biggest goal right now, is getting back in shape for Michigan, cause that’s the next meet coming around,” Kucharczyk said. “I’ll be damned if I don’t go to that meet and show them why they should’ve picked me and why they messed up.”
More in Swimming & diving
The team travels to Florida this weekend, while a controversial speaker also visits the Florida campus.
Swimming and Diving earned a pair of top-10 rankings and multiple nominees for the Golden Goggle Awards.
In the first full day of competition at the 2017 NCAA Championships, the IU men’s swim and dive team sits fifth overall with a total of 121 points.